Monday, October 16, 2006





We'll pass on the pork

Gov. Kathleen Blanco and members of the Louisiana Legislature face the challenge of wrapping themselves around a budget plan that may contain upwards of a $700-800 million windfall this year. How did the ship come in?

Well, a hefty portion of the surplus came from your paycheck a la the Stelly plan that increased state income taxes. Add the federal grants and charitable donations received — most of this money will flow through the sales tax stream — and things are looking good.

Unfortunately, the increased revenue is not the good ol' homegrown variety that emerges from new economic development projects those that will provide long-term economic stability. Inflated revenues are not new to Louisiana.

Do you recall the oil patch largess? We spent every dime of it and then proceeded to run up a tremendous deficit. Thank you, Edwin Edwards and friends.

We're especially concerned that the excess is occurring during a statewide election year — knowing that elected officials will be tempted to reinforce their voter base by passing around pork.

There's a great opportunity here for elected officials to put politics aside and make financial decisions that will set Louisiana aright. But delayed gratification will be required — from politicians and from voters.

We encourage you to tell our elected officials that we want responsible debt-decreasing investment as Louisiana emerges from disaster — investment that will make it possible for our children to build their future here. Tell them we'll pass on the pork.

McCrery raised millions, challengers raised little
Representative also giving money to Republican Party
By Ana Radelat

WASHINGTON - Rep. Jim McCrery, who has raised more than $2 million to keep his seat, has given the National Republican Campaign Committee $500,000 to help his GOP colleagues in a tough campaign season. McCrery, a Republican from Shreveport, is being challenged by Democrats Patti Cox and Artis Cash and fellow Republican Chester Kelley.

But none of McCrery's rivals has raised the $10,000 that would require them to file a campaign finance report with the Federal Election Commission. Since Jan. 1, 2005, McCrery has raised about $775,000 from individuals and about $1.5 million from political action committees, or PACs.

Businesses overtaxed, assessor says, but changing system tough
By Mike Hasten

BATON ROUGE - Louisiana businesses are being taxed much more than they should on computers, office furniture, equipment and other movable property, says Lafayette Parish Assessor Conrad Comeaux, and it's past time to change.

Comeaux has presented the Louisiana Tax Commission a plan that would significantly reduce business taxes over the life of such property, but whether his ideas will be adopted are in doubt. Most of his fellow assessors in the Louisiana Assessor Association oppose the idea.

"It's absolutely horrible what we do to business," Comeaux said, pointing to current taxation charts that he says overstates the value of items subject to taxation. "This affects every single business that has moveable property.

Alexandria company sells stills for people to make their own fuel
By Tom Bonnette

An old episode of "The Beverly Hillbillies" showed Granny pouring moonshine into the tank of the Clampett clan's car to win a race back home in the hills of Tennessee. She might have been more ahead of the times than anyone suspected, if Roy Thornhill's new business venture takes off like the Clampetts' juiced-up jalopy.

Thornhill, an Alexandria businessman, started Heartland Energy Group Inc. on Government Street three months ago. He recently created a wholly owned subsidiary, Flex Fuel America Inc., at the same location to give people in Louisiana the means to cook their own moonshine, or ethanol, to use as fuel.

The stills, which Thornhill said he expects to market to both businesses and individuals, range in price from $1,600 to $14 million, depending on how much fuel a buyer wants to make.

Stills can produce 10,000 to 10 million gallons per year, which can range in price from 95 cents to $1.75 a gallon, according to Dogwood Energy.


EDITORIAL- Challenges await Donelon in post

As the old proverb goes, providence sometimes challenges you by giving you what you asked for. We suspect that sentiment might be shared by Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon in coming months, as he fills out the term of former Insurance Commissioner Robert Wooley.

Donelon became commissioner after Wooley resigned, and he ran successfully in the Sept. 30 election for the right to complete Wooley’s term. This is a job that Donelon asked for, to be sure, but it isn’t one that promises to be easy.

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